Thursday, April 8, 2010

Psychological profiling based on your credit/debit purchases

Creeeeepy! Article says they can now very accurately predict things like pending divorce. Like, they'll see the signs before the parties involved!
Predicting people’s behavior is becoming big business—and increasingly feasible in an era defined by accessible information. Data crunching by Canadian Tire, for instance, recently enabled the retailer's credit card business to create psychological profiles of its cardholders that were built upon alarmingly precise correlations. Their findings: Cardholders who purchased carbon-monoxide detectors, premium birdseed, and felt pads for the bottoms of their chair legs rarely missed a payment. On the other hand, those who bought cheap motor oil and visited a Montreal pool bar called "Sharx" were a higher risk. "If you show us what you buy, we can tell you who you are, maybe even better than you know yourself,"

The Daily Beast


  1. Oh, great. They'll be all, "airforcewife, according to your profile and the large amounts of bacon you purchase, you should be having a heart attack... now. And by the way, the way you go through boxing wraps means that you must be wrapping your hands wrong. We predict that after you survive your heart attack, you'll be in arthritis by age 60. Oh yes, and stop trying to hide those chocolate chip cookies. We saw you buy them."

    Meanwhile, due to his lack of credit card/debit card use, they'd be all, "Air Force Guy who? Obviously he is a figment of airforcewife's imagination, as she has shown definite signs of instability by purchasing complete seasons of X Files and Bones, as well as repeated viewing of Dave Chappelle on Netflix. I mean, who doesn't use credit/debit cards? Sheesh!"

  2. Oh yes, and stop trying to hide those chocolate chip cookies. We saw you buy them."

    Credit card companies are the new ceiling cat.


    One article on a similar topic I've seen involves datamining Facebook.

    I can imagine the following scenario: some political organization with a few hundred thousand dollars to spend and access to some rocket-science datamining type folks can roll up an enormous amount of data on their opposition.

    They wouldn't even have to crack any accounts or buy tons of fancy computers: everyone lets it hang out on the web these days and computer time is cheap to buy using Amazon's cloud, among other options.

    So you could set up a system to crawl and process billions of blog posts and tweets, and find, say, the 100 most influential people shaping opinion against you, and identify the reasons for their influence.

    A project like this would not be beyond the means of any substantial political campaign these days.

    Democracy has never been less opaque. Not entirely sure this is a good thing, but it is what it is.

  3. The trick with Debit Cards is to shop at small stores where the sole entry is "POS Transaction" at such and such market, etc. No details.

    From my bank statements you'd think all I ever do is eat (markets) or buy gasoline (gas stations)or squander cash from ATM withdrawals who knows where.

    Now go to Wal-Mart and they'll get the whole schmeer. Take your a buck or two (maybe) and run around virtually nekid...or shop in smaller mom & pops who report zilch to the card companies.

    Or, maybe that'll tag me a Commie?

  4. VISA - We're In Your Wallet, Watching YouApril 9, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    Meanwhile, due to his lack of credit card/debit card use, they'd be all, "Air Force Guy who?
    No, we are viewing him via satellite right now. And we saw him buying those chocolate chip cookies too. Someone should tell him it's time for a haircut.

  5. RWC's Ceiling CatApril 9, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    I'm watching you, yes I am...

  6. RWC's Ceiling CatApril 9, 2010 at 5:10 PM


  7. I love "electric money" these a refund from Uncle Fed this year, he kept a wad and sent some less than 72 hours from e-filing acceptance, which was less than 24 hours. E-Money gud..and no cocaine or HIV residue.

  8. Bring yo' arse down heah, celing cat...

  9. Another thing about credit card reporting to issuers. In my last job I can't tell you how many times we got bills for $10,000+ worth of candy bars, etc....because the idiot clerks entered the wrong code for the POS transaction for diesel fuel.

    There has to be a degree of uncertainty attached to this data...I hope. Otherwise one day, even now, I may have gray suits at my door asking about what I did with all those candy bars bought with taxpayer money? Sadly, fiduciary responsibility follows you home, even in retirement.

  10. Well Aridog, word on the street is that the next Really Big Thing is going to be identity theft. Way beyond what is and has been happening.
    All those cards in people's pockets, you can walk by with a reader you can buy on the interwebthz for $15 - read them from I forget what - up to 30' away or something ridiculous like that? And you have a boatload of info. Guess that'd be only one of the myriad ways this kinda theft can occur. It's all on the internet anyways.

  11. MW..."really big thing"...RFID is not on all cards, none of mine so far. But it will be an issue sooner than later for most cards. TMI writ large.

    One way it can be thwarted is biometric scanning, as well as PIN numbers, required for use, similar to my old Army ID CAC card in some held a thumb print of the myraid other information hard to duplicate, incuding a hologram of the photo.

  12. Aridog said:

    "Sadly, fiduciary responsibility follows you home, even in retirement."

    And the more you speal against the current regime the greater chance the grey suits will be knocking on your door.

    There are enough laws on the books so that if anyone wanted to put you in jail, there is some law somewhere that will let them do it.

  13. RadioMattM....

    Actually, the "fiduciary responsibility" thing is an institutionalized federal government mechanism....and a necessary one regarding stewardship of taxpayer funds. My only follow-me-home episode so far has been under Bush 43 and had nothing to do with any politics...and was resolved relatively simply, still frustrating however. I'm very well versed in accounting and held the leverage if it had made it to court due to an accounting error at the senior executive level that caused the issue in the first place. IOW, I was being held responsible for something caused by a senior executive party breaking fiscal law....literally attempted erasure of funding obligation records from a global database. I had periodic ODBC snapshots of that database which were irrefutable...any modifications to such records records the name and ID of the person making the change as the "OS-User."

    The effect of the database erasure was to de-obligate funds, but it does not succeed in really erasing anything literally otherwise...the records are there. Anti-Deficiency Act cases rarely make it to court if you have your ducks in a row so to speak. I always did...I have no interest in a expense paid vacation in Leavenworth, Kansas. Knowing how to copy Db records via ODBC functions is just another helpful means to keep things in order....although I developed my process as an audit tool for other aspects of management performance. It's a safe bet that senior executive levels in government know little about their own systems, most barely can do email.

    That said, if someone wanted to hammer you for political reasons they could try it, sure enough. In my case they'd have a lot of home invading to do to win, however...and before that could occur I'd have dumped copies off at my attorney's office via FTP file transfer. If you are honest that is your main protection.

    The worker bee level of civil service is reasonably well set up...the very reason it is there is specifically to remove politics from the equation. It's a myth that civil servants can't be fired for cause...perpetuated by dithering senior types more than anything...e.g., they're looking out for their personal interests rather than efficiency.

    The things to be wary of in government management is any dissembly of the civil service mechanisms, which is peridocially tried...and if successful, brings politics to the front and center....then your prediction holds very true.